Over the last ten or so years, there’s been a trend where the increasing mobility of devices has led to greater dependence and constant communication. However, our brains are not getting the downtime they need.
As someone who loves technology, I’ve always been a big supporter of this trend and it’s really only been in the past few years that I’ve understood how destructive this really is.
Technology holds a lot of appeal for kids and adults with Isms for many reasons but particularly because it allows conversations with reduced stress. Many people with Isms handle texting and email far more effectively than they do “real-life” conversation.
Modern technology allows people to participate in group discussions without the stress of sticking to all the social rules. It’s therefore not unexpected that people with Isms are among the highest users of mobile technology.
There are three really significant ways that technology affects us negatively.
High Risk of Overuse Injuries
These used to be called Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). In technology circles, they’re caused by constant use of the keyboard, mouse, joysticks/gamepads and thumb. The resulting injuries can be quite painful and damaging in both short and long term – especially if they’re ignored.
People with Isms often have a higher pain threshold than those without. They can ignore certain types of pain and may completely fail to notice others, particularly if they’re engaged in activities related to a special interest.
This puts people with Isms in a high risk category for overuse injuries.
The Lack of Downtime
Our minds and bodies need regular periods of “downtime” in order to function effectively. In the past, mental downtime was more or less automatic simply because there was nothing to do while waiting. People used to “zone out” waiting for the bus, while walking or at the very least, when they were “taking care of business”.
These days, there is no respite and mobile devices have moved into all of these areas. Your mind can’t rest because it is always being exposed to the onslaught of communications, status updates, questions, games, media and general information overload.
With so much to occupy us, it’s little wonder that our attention spans are growing shorter and, I suspect, there’s more than a casual link to the rise in mental disorders.
Once again, given that people with Isms frequently develop special interests around devices and that they often favour systems which allow them to reduce their dependence upon interpersonal communication, they are in the high risk group for device overuse.
Many Isms, and many medications associated with Isms, also have side effects which make sleep difficult. When people with Isms can’t sleep, they often turn to their devices.
You’d think that the general lifestyle effects are fairly obvious. Most people understand the risks associated with obesity after all. These effects are far wider-ranging. There are are a lot more general lifestyle effects beyond the obvious one.
Fixations on devices often cause addiction problems, the results of which are extended device usage, a “disengagement from life”, poor eating and hygiene, mental issues and increased incidence of meltdowns. For example, meltdowns occur when games do unexpected things or when external factors, such as family, intrude on game time.
People with Isms are especially susceptible to device addiction, and meltdowns.
Other lifestyle effects include increased self-isolation, and reduced social abilities, something that people with Isms struggle with even without device issues.
Withdrawal from physical activity has effects on core and general strength resulting in poor posture and the increased likelihood of injury. Given that many people with Isms suffer from “low muscle tone” and general “floppiness”, this again puts them in the high risk category.
And the Answer is…
There’s no perfect answer to these issues but if you or your children have Isms, you need to be keeping tabs on the amount of time you spend on your devices and the amount of alternative activities you schedule.
In particular, to give your brain the downtime it needs, set devices aside and…
Give your brain the downtime it needs and exercise! As simple as stand up and sit down at your desks, go for a walk or go to the gym.
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Schedule regular breaks to give your brain the downtime it needs. Take mental breaks away from the devices, meditate or leave the devices at home sometimes.
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Watch Your Posture
Watch your posture. Set alarms on your devices to remind you to check your posture.
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A perfect way to give the brain downtime is to take a time out and have proper meals at the table and away from tech.
Give your brain downtime from tech and spend time with people. Be sure to keep working on your communication skills.
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Be mindful of your mood and stress levels as they will signal when your brain needs downtime. Try to be aware of when the devices are “stressing you out” and take a break when you’re feeling frustrated by the device.
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Get Your Zzz’s
Get decent amount of sleep. Don’t charge the devices in your bedroom where you’ll be tempted.
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In today’s society, you can’t fight devices. They’ve become an important part of our society and they’re here to stay. You can, however, make sure that you make healthy choices related to your use of them.